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Review Group: Irredeemable #12

MrBlack had the pick for new comics shipping March 17th and he selected Irredeemable #12 by Mark Waid, Peter Strause and Diego Barreto.
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The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

Irredeemable seems to be one of the Outhouse's more popular Indie Superhero books.  Now that the title is a year old, it was a perfect time to see how the series is holding up.
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0317-irredeemable_cover.jpgReview by MrBlack

When this comic began, it had a fairly simple premise: a Superman-analogue goes bad and turns against the world. Part of the draw of the series, at least initially, was finding out why.

This would be enough to keep a normal book floating for a couple of years, but Mark Waid decided not to go the tried-and-true route. Instead, we knew by issue #11 exactly what drove the Plutonian (or "Tony") over the edge. No one event drove Tony to madness. Rather, several factors contributed to his turning: the disconnection from humanity due to his powers, the feeling that no one appreciated him for all of the good he did, and the realization that humanity may not be worthy of his attention or his faith. Some of this is ultimately contradictory, but hey, that's how the mind works! It is rare to see such care taken in examining the psychology of a character, and Mark Waid should be applauded for creating a hero/villain with such depth.

With issue #12, the Plutonian's secrets are laid bare, and we finish our slide into the next arc of this story. After his brother's death, Charybdis has reclaimed all of his powers and is now strong enough to present an actual threat to the Plutonian. After wiping the floor with Tony in their first match-up, Charybdis (or "Cary") has dubbed himself "The Survivor," and taken command of the remains of the Paradigm. Unfortunately, this power boost also boosted Cary's ego, and he expects not only the loyalty of the remaining members of the Paradigm, but adoration from the public, and he gets quite upset when he gets neither. Cary is on the same path to destruction as Tony, and the US government is not willing to wait for him to reach the breaking point. With the Plutonian apparently out of the picture, the government engages the services of Orian, an interdimensional bounty hunter, to take down the rest of the Paradigm, which he quickly does by maiming Gilgamos and using him and Bette Noire as bait. Meanwhile, Tony went to the grave of his former sidekick, Samsara, to recover from the beating he suffered at the hands of Cary, only to discover that Samsara was still alive. Unbeknownst to Tony, Samsara is inhabited by the spirit of Modeus, the Plutonian's greatest enemy (and the Lex Luthor to his Superman).

That brings us to this issue, where we see the Paradigm take on Orian, and Tony confront his former foster family. While I enjoyed the continued exploration of Tony's psychology, the fight with Orian was somewhat less enjoyable. Cary, for all his powers, is unable to put much of a dent in Orian. This is the same person who put the beat-down on the Plutonian just a couple of issues ago, and the fact that Orian is seemingly stronger than either of them lessens the sense of danger that you are supposed to feel whenever the Plutonian makes an appearance. This was palpable in the earlier issues, but much less so here.

My other big problem is that Waid has started to introduce events into the story which have taken place off panel. The transformation of Cary into "The Survivor" from a couple of issues back was only mentioned in the summary at the beginning of the issue, rather than shown in the comic itself. Here, we learn that Scylla's body is missing from a comment made by Charybdis in the course of the fight with Orian. I understand that there are only so many pages to be used for story each month, but having important details dropped during seemingly innocuous conversations really pulls me out of the story. It makes me feel like I missed an issue somewhere.

By the end of the story, Tony is on the move again and the Paradigm is out of the picture. These new developments are quite intriguing, and I'm very interested in seeing what Tony's next move is, as well as what will happen to the Paradigm (and where Orian dragged Cary off to).

I have to admit that while I did think Peter Krause was off-model for part of the story, I did not initially realize that he only drew the second half of the book. Diego Barreto is a good match for his style, and the change in artists halfway through the book is not jarring at all, at least to my eye. Krause does a good job with expressions, although many of his faces still look a bit weird to me (eyes set slightly too low, overly large foreheads, etc.). Barreto lacks some of Krause's detail, but his figures look a bit more natural.

Was this a good issue? It certainly was not the strongest in the series. For all the fighting, this really was a set-up for the next stage of the story. Still, the peeks into the minds of Bette Noire and Tony were entertaining, and you can definitely see shades of "Kingdom Come" in some of the dialogue in this issue, particularly Quibit's assertion that "We're all that can save you." So while this was not the best issue, it was still a solid and entertaining read.

Story: 7.5
Art: 7.5
Overall: 7.5


irredeemable12_11.jpgReview by Punchy

Story  - Mark Waid's Irredeemable is probably the Indie success story of 2009, it's dark and vicious take on various DC archetypes, in particular a crazed Superman has been a lot of fun. Waid knows enough so much about Superman, that it's a joy to see someone with so much passion undercutting and making his hero into a villain. I've particularly enjoyed how Waid has built the Universe, through flashback, and also through companion book Incorruptible, the Irredeemaverse is a fantastic addition to comics.

Which is why it's annoying that this week's issue isn't exactly the best we've seen, and is quite disappointing. There are still strong elements, but I wasn't feeling it like usual. I think much of that comes down to the scenes involving the Paradigm (the JLA) fighting Orian, a big grey demon. The majority of these characters have not been particularly well-developed, and when it comes to a character like Bette Noir, who is really central here, who's analogue isn't especially apparent (a bit of Black Canary? A bit of Hawkgirl? Huh?), it's hard to care about her. The scenes where she breaks down and admits to some great crime (I'm, not quite sure what it is, not telling everyone about that magic candle? Or is the big reveal still to come? I didn't really care. Cary's heel turn is also annoying me, as is the Government's involvement, let's get back to the core of the book and have the Paradigm fight the Plutonian!

Things are better on the Plutonian side of things however. Tony really is a fascinating character, I love seeing his thought process, he's just so fucked-up, but you can also see where he's coming from in a way. What he does to his adopted family is just shocking. I'm also interested by the Samsara/Modeus plotline, Waid has handled this very well, very subtly, and I can't wait to see what happens.

So, this was only really a half-decent issue of Irredeemable, the Paradigm scenes were disappointing, but the Tony stuff was just as good, if not better than what came before. But every issue of this book is part of the wider tapestry, and you can't really discount this issue, he could become retroactively awesome. Who knows? I was a huge fan of JMS and Gary Frank's sadly abandoned Supreme Power, and Irredeemable continues to fill that gap for me, I enjoy it every month, and while this issue was a little bit of a let-down, the book is still very much worth picking up.

Art - The art is also a game of two halves this issue, the first 12 pages are drawn by Barreto, and his work is adequate, but lacks polish, once Peter Krause steps back in, things improve, along with the story. Krause really is a good fit for this book, his style is clean and classic, perfect for contrasting what Superman analogues should be, with what Irredeemable is. It's a shame he's been falling behind and not been able to pencil the entirety of each issue, but hey, Barreto is OK really.

Best Line - 'Cheerio'

6.8/10

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Review by starlord

This was a little hard for me to digest since it was in the middle of a storyline that seems to be pretty big. I enjoyed it though. I may end collecting this in trades because I did find this new world to be fascinating. Art was okay, nothing great but nothing horrible.

Story:7
Art: 5
My Score: 6


irredeemable12_07.jpgReview by Zero

Mark Waid is pretty reliable. I don't think I've ever read a truly horrible comic by him. His Fantastic Four run is is pretty great and Kingdom Come is pretty awful but much of his output falls, for me, solidly in the middle. This middle ground is where his Irredeemable writing has landed.

When I read a hero gone bad story, I get the feeling that I've read it before. Even Powers had trouble putting a truly awesome spin on it, and that featured the Gaza strip getting razed and the Pope melting on-panel. Irredeemable has had a couple of these moments, and the murder of Tony's former foster siblings (I think that's what they were anyway) here is a smaller example of the evil that Singapore's destruction earlier but still manages to be a highlight for the book. The portrayal of evil here is always solid.

The good guys, however, are rubbish. Everything about them is flat and uninteresting, with fairly generic powers (with one exception) and costumes and personalities that amount to them disagreeing and infighting while running away from the fight. Also their costumes are some kind of fugly. Even the artwork seems to look worse when our heroes are the focus, looking sketchier and less expressive. The art doesn't really stand out at the best of times, with a sort generic DC house style in effect bringing nothing extraordinary or special to the party but at least when Tony takes centre stage the combination of glowering, cowering and overpowering (ugh, I'm sorry) that goes on brings out the best in Peter Krause.

Ultimately the book is a solid villain comic half the time and a bland superhero book the other half. It balances out as a fairly average book but one that might come into its own as the concept plays out.

6


irredeemable12_06.jpgReview by amlah6

I've been reading Irredeemable in trades, so I had to read a few issues to get caught up to the point where I could review this issue. While I think the book has maybe hit a bit of a lull in the story since the end of the second volume, it still made for a fun reading experience.

I agree with some of the discussion in this week's thread that Paradigm seems to be taking up a bit more of the book then what they should be. I've liked the Bette Noir subplot, but mostly those characters aren't developed or interesting enough to make for a compelling story. Irredeemable is obviously at it's best when focusing on Plutonian and those portions of this issue were great as usual.

Peter Krause isn't the flashiest superhero artist in the industry, but his work is always well constructed and serves the story well. Diego Barreto's work meshes well with Krause, most books suffer when there are multiple artists working on the same issue, but Irredeemable has weathered the transition nicely.

Story: 8.5
Art: 7.5
Overall: 8

irredeemable12_04.jpg

Review by 48THRiLLS

I read the first trade and it didn't really click with me so much so I never read any further. This may have a been a good issue if you are a fan of the book and up to date with the goings on but for me it fell quite flat. The Plutonion may be an interesting character but I see him as more of a butt hurt crybaby than super villain, especially the part where he kills what looks to be his family? I know a lot of people are enjoying this book and that is great but I find it hard to get behind a book whose characters are either boring or are completely unlikable. I also am not the biggest fan of the art here, this ish had 2 different guys and both were sub par IMO.

STORY - 6
ART - 5
OVERALL - 5.5

irredeemable12_05.jpg

Review by Dragavon

Waid writes some truly disturbing scenes as we see the Plutonian's further decline into madness and the final pages are pretty grim, but aside from that the book is lagging a bit. There still doesn't seem to be a protagonist who you care for in this book. Most of the characters are ciphers that seem to exist only to further the plot. I mean we find out that one of the characters had an adulterous affair with the Plutonian which might have something to do with his current state of mind but I don't care about the woman or the man she betrayed. All in all it seems a bit flat.

As to the artist, Krause is at best adequate here. There's nothing wrong with the work but neither does it wow me. Functional would be the best term.

Writing 7
Art 5
Total Score 6


irredeemable12_03.jpgReview by Jude Terror

I'm not caught up on this book, as I'm collecting it in trade (as it seems many are), so I hesitated to jump ahead like this, but anything for the review group.

For me, the jump of about six issues wasn't too painful, as some old plots are tied up in this issue and some new ones begin. The Plutonian, under the influence of "Sam," takes care of some unfinished business with yet another despicable act, one that demonstrates his cold, ruthless nature while at the same time revealing his inner pain. Also, a long suspected truth about Bette Noir is revealed to the Paradigm, setting the stage for a future resolution to the main plotline... if they are ever able to do anything about it.

Waid does an excellent job here as always, throwing out reveals and character development in an issue that is pretty much all action. We learn some new things, things drastically chance for many of the characters, and the reader is left with the feeling that a lot happened in this single issue. What more could you ask for from a comic?!

I actually preferred the art of Baretto on the first half of this book. He seems to have a knack for drawing action that can sometimes fall flat with Krause, though his art is, as always, consistent and competent.

A fulfilling issue, and a good jumping on point for new readers.

Story: 9
Art: 6
Overall: 7.5
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That gives Irredeemable #12 a group score of 6.83.  What the what?  I didn't see that coming.

For a unusually on topic discussion on this week's pick, join us in this week's thread found in the News Stand forum where you are also invited to post your own review. 
Comment or post your own review!
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0324-amazingspider-man_cover.jpgDragavon has the pick for March 24th and he has selected Amazing Spider-Man #626 from Marvel Comics.  Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning.

Amazing Spider-Man #626

WRITER: Fred Van Lente
PENCILS: Michael Gaydos

Hiya, Retailers, Fred Van Lente here to tell you we could never let "The Gauntlet" get by without the return of another classic Spider-Man foe...THE SCORPION! She has brand new powers, a new modus operandi, and you won't believe her reason for tangling with Spidey-- Hm, what? Yes, we said "she." Why? Who did you think we meant? 32 PGS./Rated A …$2.99

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